I’ve lived in the same house for thirty two years. We built it when our children were in high school; it is a beautiful home in a beautiful setting. We have a view of the Mississippi River from our front windows and back up to acres of native and undeveloped tree-covered bluffs full of wildlife
Even after all these years, I continue to be transfixed by a deer walking silently through the woods, a mother raccoon carrying her young, a pileated woodpecker visiting our feeder, and the ever-evolving beauty of each change of seasons. Nature surrounds me and calms me. This is my home.
Yet I often think about downsizing and moving into town. Honestly, our house is too big for just Keith and me. We have three stories, three bedrooms, and a full basement. Realistically, we only “live” in our kitchen, den, four-season porch and one bedroom. Fortunately I don’t like clutter, and consequently the house is neat and tidy, but still it is too big for just two people. The rooms that aren’t used still need to be maintained, as well as the exterior, lawn and garden. Another factor is we live eight miles from town…so I can’t just walk to the grocery store, the library, or my yoga classes—I always need a ride.
If the decision were purely logical, we should sell and move.
But I’m not ready; not yet anyway. For two reasons: one emotional, the other practical.
When I think about leaving my home, my environs of more than thirty years, I feel an impending and tremendous sense of loss. It is not the house itself I would mourn, rather the nature that has surrounded me. The bluffs and the river, the critters, the moon rising and the sun setting over the picturesque valley. These wonders fill me with awe and peace, serenity, and comfort—every single day. I have grown accustomed to this consistency of beauty I’ve known for over three decades. I have the freedom to walk in the woods any time I want, to witness the earliest signs of green emerging on the southern slopes and the swarming of bees as they wait silently in the crutch of a tree while the drones scout out a new homestead. How could I possibly leave this place?
Alongside this emotionally driven sense of connection are the practical realities of relocating. I know the physical and mental challenges of moving; we moved between nine different apartments or houses before we settled here in our valley. In addition, I helped “close” my mom’s condo when she died, as well as Keith’s dad’s house. I remember well every single item one picked up required decision making: Toss out?…Keep for some relative, (which relative, and do they even want it?)…Recycle?…Give to charity, and which one? The mere thought of having to make so many choices and decision causes my brain to swim and my stomach to churn with anxiety.
So for the time being, I’m staying put—even as I’m doing my best to downsize. I have boxes in the back hall where I’m putting items for the resale shops. I’m no longer buying clothes, as I have plenty. I’ve asked the children to stop buying me gifts…I have everything I need. I’ve also begun asking the children before I recycle or toss out anything, “Do you want this?” And I’ve been surprised at both what they wanted and what they didn’t.
Like many parts of life, it’s a process. Perhaps this summer I’ll really bite the bullet and have a garage sale. Or not. If I’ve learned anything it is to recognize my stressors and do my best to avoid them. When the time comes, I think I’ll leave the sorting and packing to someone else.